“Genuine Spinning is spiralling, which takes us over, under, around the baffle gates of godfathers into the Background. One definition of the term spiral is a three-dimensional curve (as a helix) with one or more turns about an axis.* Interestingly, one meaning of helix is “the incurved rim of the external ear.” The metrapatriarchal journey begins with hearing the dissonant voices of the foreground and dis-spelling them. As we spiral into the Background Hags hear the Background. One meaning of the term labrynth is “the internal ear”….Hags hearing into the labrynth beyond the foreground hear new voices– our own voices.” Daly, 1978)
*Gyn/Ecologists will not overlook the fact that DNA, the mysterious substance which is the basis of all life on earth, and which determines the nature of every living organism, is in the form of an interlocking of “double” helix.”
Blocking out the foreground is somewhat easier to do when you live in a foreign culture.
What is the foreground? It is the nonsense and pettiness that takes up our days, imposed upon us by patriarchal-capitalism. The endless to-do lists and shopping lists, clocks, dates, places to be, appointments to remember. The non-sense. But more specifically, especially in 2011, the attacks on women’s psyches by the marketing men via the media.
I literally live in a bubble. I don’t speak Japanese well enough to be marketed to, and nobody here is trying to market to anyone in English. And besides, even if I did listen properly to the radio or TV the cultural cues would go straight over my head. I’m the ad-man’s worst nightmare. I literally cannot be cajoled into buying a product.
Before you think I’m being smug I’m going to tell you that I shop. I do. And I’m working on this. But I have been granted a respite from the endless twittering misogyny that permeates women’s thoughts. I now never watch TV or movies. It has freed up some energy and I am beginnning to focus on the Background.
What is the Background? According to Daly, who invented the term, it is where women weave and spin. I interpret her words to mean the weaving of the revolution. Once you dispel the chattering, the Background becomes visible and you realise it was there all along.
My sisters are doing great work on the front line, battling it out, but today I am going slink back into the realm of women. We all need to do this from time to time to recoup and refresh.
Before I finally attempt to describe the Background, let me juxtapose it once more with the foreground.
Ever wondered why men’s identity is tied to their work? Why trans women are obsessed with public toilets and public spaces? One reason is because men and trans must be seen in order to be, their lives must take place in the foreground and enacted in front of others (while relying on the energy of the women in the background in order to get up to their shennanigens). It is, after all, a performance.
Men can’t fathom the Background; they could never enter its portals because they don’t realise it exists, and even if they did they wouldn’t be welcome there. In fact, if a man did inadvertantly stumble upon it, a secret shift of energy would take place and all of a sudden the same space would become the foreground. Only the women would notice.
All men see of women is their own projections, which of course, must take place in public, when women are in spaces that men can see them. Needless to say, men have stabbed themselves in the foot when it comes to understanding women by persistently portraying them the way they do in literature and on screen. See my post on Onsens.
So we must move further into the background and carry our work there., The places where trans women and men will never know. The nooks and crannies of society where all oppressed groups of people must take their looms to weave.
Two days ago I cooked a meal for my friend.
I always use local staples in my dishes: bamboo shoots picked by elderly women in the mountains, shiitake mushrooms grown on logs on my friend’s land, burdock root, lotus root, soy beans, konbu seaweed, tofu. Mirin, sugar and soy sauce in just the right quantities are enough to flavour the dish.
A carrot and daikon salad is time consuming. SHe helped me to finish it off. Rice completed the meal, and I served it with a beverage which is in fashion at the moment, and is perfect on a warm spring day: sweet apple vinegar in iced water, tart and bitter, but not too much. Perfect.
We talked. She told me a story about a friend of hers in another far-off country. I felt a benign stab of jealousy.
We laughed often. Sometimes we watched the world outside. Nature, too, understands the Background. The sweet scented gusts of wisteria being blown down from the mountains are just starting to fade in potency as the months move into summer, and now we smell jasmine from the gardens. We were silent.
The food, of course, is just and add-on. It’s not the essence of the background itself. Some of my best Background days took place long before I’d taught myself to cook. I would regard the meal as a sort of prop, an unnecessary, but interesting, compliment to the weaving.
I’m hoping to focus a little of the energy of this blog onto the Background, without revealing too much about the Background itself. Word has it that trans women now trawl radical feminist blogs in order to glean experiences from women-identified women. I don’t want to lay bare the secrets and truths of our lives for any old passing voyeur.
Next week, my friend will cook for me